Michal Neuvirth wasn’t sure after his relief performance Wednesday night if he had earned a start for the Washington Capitals. Starts have been so few and far between for the 23-year-old that his uncertainty was understandable.
But Neuvirth will indeed start for the Caps Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens after stopping all 14 shots he faced at Ottawa.
“I thought he played well,” coach Dale Hunter said. “When he came in, we gave up two breakaways on the power play and he stood tall and gave us a chance to come back.”
This is Neuvirth’s first start since Feb. 12 at the New York Rangers and his first home start since Dec. 20. He has only started twice at Verizon Center since Hunter took over as coach.
Neuvirth shut out the Canadiens in his last start in Montreal on Jan. 18, making 31 saves. Tomas Vokoun started at Bell Centre the next time around, also picking up a shutout.
But Vokoun struggled at the Senators, allowing four goals on 11 shots. Afterward, Hunter talked about the need for good goaltending, something he reiterated Friday morning.
“It’s a big part of the game. It’s tight out there,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to have the goaltending if you want to win, and we need it just like every other team needs it.”